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Help lighten the load for patient’s family

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Dear Heloise: Recently, I sat in the hospital with a terminally ill uncle, and so many PEOPLE WANTED TO DO SOMETHING for my aunt but didn't know what to do.

Here are several things I thought of:

— Give her phone cards. Every call she makes is long-distance.

— Different relatives have spent the night at her house. If each person bought a roll of paper towels, toilet paper, coffee, tea, sugar or other necessary items, it would help later.

— Call to see if she would like a home-cooked meal. She sure gets tired of hospital cafeteria food.

— Since she eats out three meals a day, a few dollars would be nice.

—She can always use stamps, a magazine, snacks that will keep, crackers, etc. — L. Bailey, Springfield, Mo.

Coupons for fast food and local restaurants would also help. Plus, it's helpful to make a run to the grocery store and to do a load of laundry, too! — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Another use for baking soda is getting black scuff marks off the floor. We had bought a new trailer, and the floor covering was white. There was a black mark. I tried using soap but with no luck. My sister swears by baking soda for everything. She said get a damp cloth and put a little baking soda on the black mark. She was right — it came off without any problem. —Beverly, Trenton, Ontario, Canada

Baking soda is one of my favorite cleaners. It is cheap and works just as well as many commercial cleaners. I have an updated baking-soda pamphlet. To receive a copy of the six-page pamphlet, please send $4 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (57 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.

Here's another baking-soda hint from Beverly: "Here's what I do to clean my hairbrushes: Naturally, I clean out the hair. Then I put them in either a small plastic container or the bathroom sink, with enough really hot water to cover them.

"Sprinkle in baking soda and let soak for a little while. You would be amazed at how much hair and hair oils come out of the combs and brushes. It just lifts off. I brush the brushes against each other and against the combs and rinse well."